Washington Football Preview

Published 3:52 pm Friday, August 17, 2018

Head coach Jon Blank’s rebuilding project of the Washington football program enters its second year in 2018. Blank and his team managed to improve upon the team’s record by one win and made a return to the playoffs in his first year at the helm. But in year two, Blank and the Pam Pack’s ambitions aim much higher: win the conference.

A large part of the rebuilding project has been a rededication to the weight room, and it looks like the hard work is beginning to pay off. Washington’s players have grown in size and strength after a year in offensive coordinator Perry Owen’s strength and conditioning program, becoming faster and more powerful athletes.

Gone are Hykeem Ruffin and his 2,005 yards and 29 touchdowns, but Blank and his staff feel their running game can be carried by the four-headed monster that is Ka’ci Foreman, Michael Clark, Ganeryan Parker and Mykel Warren. Not only will their differing running styles keep defenses off balance, but also the sharing of the running load should keep all four fresh deep into the season.

If the reinforcements from last year’s J.V. defense are able to help solidify the defensive unit that was porous last season, then Washington just may accomplish its goal.



COLORS: Navy, white

STADIUM: J.G. “Choppy” Wagner Stadium

CONFERENCE: 2A Eastern Carolina Conference

HEAD COACH: Jon Blank (Overall and at Washington: 4-8)

STAFF: Perry Owens (offensive coordinator, QB), Kevin Chapman (OL, JV head coach), Kent Hill (WR), Jeremy Ambrose (TE), Mike Nichols (RB), Jerome Tyson (DT), Alex Heck (OLB, JV defensive coordinator), John Story (DB), Ronnie Woolard (ILB), Dylan Cutler (OL), Sam Crawford (LB), Jeff Mault (athletic trainer).


RETURNING STARTERS: 4 offense, 2 defense

PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB/DB Ka’ci Foreman, RB/ILB Michael Clark, OL/DL Logan Nichols, RB/LB Ganeryan Parker, SS/WR Sayontae Moore.




2,005: The number of rushing yards Hykeem Ruffin ran for last year as a senior. This year the Pam Pack plans on using a stable of running backs instead of relying on one player. In order to have the same production in the ground game, Washington’s backs will need to find a way to stay in rhythm, despite fewer touches.



Tall, fast and physical, junior defensive back and wide receiver Sayontae Moore looks set to start at strong safety this year after shining as the JV team’s best player last season. Depending on how well he picks up the offense, Moore’s athleticism could be used as a weapon at receiver.



  1. Washington ran for 3,143 yards and 35 touchdowns last year, but the overwhelming majority of that production came from Hykeem Ruffin, who graduated. Instead of relying on one guy this year, the Pam Pack will share the ball between four runners. Each member of the quartet will have to make the most of his limited touches for Washington’s run game to maintain its productivity.
  2. Last year Washington’s defense was an area of weakness, as the Pam Pack let up 398 points in 12 games. At the same time, the J.V.’s defense was a strength, allowing more than 14 points just once in conference play. Many players from that J.V. defense have been brought up to varsity with the intention to strengthen the unit.
  3. Washington is loaded with speed and athleticism, with many of its players having also been members of the 2018 Pam Pack track team that went undefeated on the way to winning a conference championship. After dominating on the track, Washington will look to utilize its speed, power and agility to make big plays on the gridiron.




“Our number one goal is to win the conference. I think some teams are sleeping on us right now, which is fine. We haven’t earned the respect of being ranked in the preseason very highly, but we expect by the end of this season to come out as conference champions,” Washington head coach Jon Blank said.






After having a two-year starter in Frederick Holscher at quarterback last year, Washington turns to Antwone Godley, last year’s JV signal caller, to step behind center this season. The 5-foot-9 junior brings athleticism to the position and reads the option well, while also having a deceptively good arm that can make an impact in the passing game. Backup Hunter Hall is more of a pure thrower of the ball, but has improved his running ability and will see time in games after splitting reps with Godley in preseason.



The big guys up front for Washington’s offense will be an area of strength for the team in 2018. Left guard Logan Nichols, a three-year varsity member, and fellow senior and right guard Chase Ambrose serve as both leaders of the offensive line and the team. Stephen Hartley and Robert Pollock both moved up from the JV team and will be assets at left tackle and center, respectively, with their size and strength. Senior Braxton Phelps and junior Zeke Alvarez both look to contribute at right tackle after competing for the spot during preseason. With no starting linemen over 245 pounds, the line may struggle against bigger non-conference opponents like Tarboro and D.H. Conley, but should be able to open up running lanes and provide pass protection in conference play.



After relying so much on Hykeem Ruffin last season, Washington is planning on using a running back rotation in 2018. Michael Clark and Ganeryan Parker will provide the power in the ground game, but both seniors move better than one would expect from 5-foot-10, 210-pound backs. Kac’ci Foreman is the elusive runner in the Washington backfield who can make things happen in space. Mykel Warren is the smallest of the running backs, at 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds, but he runs with both speed and power and can take off for a big run when he finds a running lane. Expect the Pam Pack to keep opposing defenses off balance by alternating between the running backs and their different running styles.



Washington rotated through many players at receiver during preseason, after losing five players at the position to graduation. As a team that runs the ball often, the Pam Pack demands its wideouts to be able to block well. Montrice Selby is used in the slot and will be moved around a lot to utilize his blocking. Rod Moore supplies Godley with a big-bodied target at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. Expect to see backup quarterback Hunter Hall to get some plays at receiver to make use of his soft hands and 6-foot-2 frame. Washington’s coaches hope to see Sayontae Moore get some time out wide for the offense after coming up from JV. They think Moore can provide a dynamic option at the position and can be really special, but he needs to adjust to the varsity level.



Primarily used in the slot as a receiver, senior Montrice Selby will be moved around often and will also line up as a tight end and H-back to make better use of his blocking ability to help clear paths for the Pam Pack’s stable of running backs. Selby’s experience as a receiver also makes him a threat to catch passes out of a three-point stance.



Washington’s defensive line will operate out of a three-man front as a base package, but will switch to a four-man front depending on the situation. The big bodies of Khyric McCloud, Sherfield Smith and Kevon Langley will be depended upon to clog up the middle and slow down the opposition’s running game using their power and athleticism. When the Pam Pack switches to four defensive linemen, either T. J. Williams or Rod Moore will enter at the “bandit” position, which is a hybrid of defensive end and outside linebacker. The bandit will be asked to both stop the run on the edge and get pressure on the quarterback. Williams and Moore both have the size, quickness and motor to get that done.



With his speed, power, range and toughness, Mykel Warren will start at outside linebacker. He is a bit undersized for the position, but his heart and drive more than make up for it. T.J. Williams and Rod Moore will play at the other outside linebacker position. After strong seasons playing for the J.V. defense last year, Hayden Anderson and Isaac Roberson Cooper look to carry that good form to the varsity level at inside linebacker. Senior Jalyn Jordan, who’s played on the defensive line in the past, may see time at inside linebacker to bring some size to the position



Washington has plenty of speed and athleticism in the secondary in 2018, as all four starters ran on Washington’s conference-winning track team last year. Jahno Bryant, the fastest player in the program, returns to start at corner and is joined by Jamari Barnes. Ka’ci Foreman brings great instincts and solid tackling, along with his explosiveness, to the free safety spot. After establishing himself as the best player on JV last year, strong safety Sayontae Moore will look do the same at the varsity level, as he grasps more and more of the mental side of the game.



Backup quarterback Hunter Hall will serve as kicker and punter and his strong leg makes him one of the best punters in the area. Freshman Ridge Zerniak, who also plays for the Pam Pack soccer team, might steal away Hall’s kicking duty before the season is over. In the return game, Washington feels blessed to have multiple guys, like Ka’ci Foreman, Jamari Barnes and Mykell Warren, who have the speed and toughness to return kicks and punts.